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The CNBC Million Dollar Challenge is a 10 week contest to see who can create the best portfolio with the largest percentage gain over that time period. Weekly prizes are also given. Since the contest is at the end of week 1 – you only have 9 weeks to go. With the stock market going crazy right now, you can have some fun with some fake money and maybe even win a prize.

Since you are not risking any real money in this contest, you must go for the highest risk/reward situation in order to win. Although it is wise to invest in conservative dividend paying stocks for your real portfolio, those companies would not be good for the purposes of this contest. You will need stocks that have some sort of catalyst happening in the next 9 weeks. This could be an FDA approval decision, earnings announcement or a takeover of that particular company.

It is important to know the following qualifiers for the contest: the companies that you choose must have a market cap of at least $500 million, a stock price of at least $2 per share and have a 100 day average trading volume of at least 50,000 shares.

Here are a few stock ideas that you can use to try and win this well-known and fun to play contest.

Companies with FDA Decision Dates:

Company Name



Date of Catalyst




FDA decision on Soliris for atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome


Teva Pharmaceuticals


FDA decision on Azilect for Parkinson’s Disease


Teva Pharmaceuticals


FDA decision on Bio-T-Gel for treatment of male hypogonadism or low testosterone levels




FDA decision on EYLEA for treating neovascular age-related macular degeneration


Typically, stocks with upcoming FDA decision dates drift higher in the time leading up to those dates. If the FDA approves the drug, the stock typically spikes higher and if the FDA rejects the approval, the stock will typically take a large tumble downward.

Small to Mid-Sized Companies with Earnings Announcements:

Company Name


Earnings Date

Possible Outcome

Jabil Circuit



Analysts expect large rise in earnings; may exceed expectations

Progress Software



Expecting negative earnings growth, but may surprise to the upside.

Synex Corp.



Had a recent upgrade; expecting positive earnings growth

Comtech Telecommunications



Had a recent downgrade; expecting negative earnings growth, but may surprise to the upside

Paychex Inc.



Expecting positive earnings growth

Family Dollar Stores



Expecting strong sales, positive earnings growth

AZZ Incorporated



Possible upside earnings surprise due to higher demand for power generation supplies

Worthington Industries



Expect positive earnings growth; company trades at nice value

Schnitzer Steel



Recent stock sell-off might be overdone, possible upside earnings surprise

Constellation Brands



Possible upside earnings surprise due to higher demand for liquor to cope w/ recent stock plunge/economic worries

Keep in mind that you can pick up to five different portfolios in this contest. You will need to put on a lot of risk in order to win this contest. The strategy that you use to try to win is not the strategy that you should use with real money in your portfolio – unless you can afford to lose it. So, go ahead - make your picks, have fun and be comforted knowing that whatever you do, you can’t lose money when you’re playing with the fake stuff.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.